You can enjoy a good taste of Vermont in less than a week. This trip involves about 2 or 3 hours of driving daily, if you don't linger (though I wholeheartedly recommend it). You can also scout out places to which you'd like to return and explore in depth.
Days 1 & 2: Burlington
Check in to the hotel and head out to explore Burlington. Depending on the weather, rent bikes or in-line skates, or just put on some comfortable walking shoes -- this is a great destination for pedestrians.
Budget plenty of time for exploring the pedestrian-only Church Street Marketplace -- keep an eye out for the popcorn guy hawking sugared kettle corn in summer -- as well as the University of Vermont campus.
Each night, have dinner at one of Burlington's many excellent midpriced restaurants. In the evening, you can check out the Vermont Mozart Festival.
Day 3: Shelburne & Middlebury
Head south to Shelburne in the morning, and spend most of the day exploring the remarkable Shelburne Museum.
Afterward, drive south to the classic town of Middlebury and spend the night at a country inn. The historic Otter Creek district, set on a steep hillside by the rocky creek, is well worth exploring and has some great crafts for sale. If you're an art lover, explore the campus and art museum of little Middlebury College. For dinner, we like American Flatbread, though it's open only 2 nights a week.
Day 4: In & Around Dorset & Manchester
From Middlebury, drive south on Route 7, detouring to Proctor to visit the Vermont Marble Museum. You'll be amazed at the famous sculptures and edifices carved, built, enhanced, or faced with the local stone.
Later, continue west on Route 4 almost to the New York border, then go south on Highway 30 through Dorset and Manchester, both classic Vermont small towns with scenic vistas. If you're a history fan, you'll love Hildene, the former estate of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the assassinated president.
Spend the night in Manchester, Dorset, or Arlington -- being sure to leave time late in the day for outlet shopping in Manchester and a stop at the flagship Orvis outdoors shop.
Day 5: Woodstock
Today head east on Highway 30 into the Green Mountains, then follow Highway 35 north to the town of Woodstock. (Break out those maps if you crave back roads.)
Be sure to sit a spell on Woodstock's lovely town green, taking some photographs of the covered bridge. You can walk from the center of town to the underrated Billings Farm and Museum. Drop in to a local pub or coffee shop for a pint or a cup, and try to stay overnight here or nearby.
Day 6: The Mad River Valley
After exploring Woodstock in the morning, head west on Route 4 with a detour to Plymouth to visit the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, which is also the site of yet another cheese factory.
Continue through Killington and up scenic Route 100 to the Mad River Valley. If it's winter and you're a skier, you may be in heaven; the ski hill here is Vermont's most laid-back.
Overnight in Warren or Waitsfield -- dropping in to the cute Warren General Store for souvenirs -- and, if time permits, rent a bike.
Day 7: Back to Burlington
Spend your final day of this tour working your way back to Burlington.
On the way, spend an hour or two in the lovely little capital city of Montpelier. If you're interested, check out the immense working quarries in Barre.
You may be pressed for time, but your kids won't let you miss the Ben & Jerry's factory tour in Waterbury. There's plenty of shopping around here, too, so give in.
End your trip with dinner in Burlington at one of the restaurants you missed on your first visit -- even if it's just Al's.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.